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Demanding Annual Chemical Toxicity Testing in all U.S. Public SchoolsThirty K-12 schools in New Jersey's largest metropolitan city, Newark, have officially been identified as contaminated sites by state and city officials. According to environmental experts, the sites contain high levels of lead, well past federal EPA's chemical release quota for emergency cleanup. In light of recent discoveries of lead-water contamination in Flint, Michigan, Newark officials have established a policy of routine water testing throughout the city. On their first go-around, they discovered that the water in 30 public schools, including 5 charter schools, was contaminated with lead. Since the discovery, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the school superintendent Christopher Serf have declared 30 public schools in a state of emergency. Each school morning, trucks filled with bottled water conduct drop offs to over 20,000 students, teachers, cafeteria staff and custodial so that they all have access to clean, usable water throughout the day. Lead is a heavy metal that has been federally regulated since the 1970s, once its properties were revealed to cause developmental defects and neurological degeneration. In Newark, New Jersey, 20,000 students in 30 different schools drink it each day. While we commend Newark officials for acting immediately upon discovery, we condemn them for their tardiness and years of neglect towards the health and safety of the children they are responsible for educating and protecting. Water quality experts estimate that Newark water banks have been severely contaminated for up to six years. According to some sources, the water contamination began in 2012, in the aftermath of New Jersey's most disastrous storm, Hurricane Sandy. Others claim that that presence of heavy metals like lead and mercury in Newark's water banks is a part of a larger problem, tracing back to over spills and cross-contamination during a storm in 2010. Newark students and parents are enraged. Having been left in the dark about years of water poisoning, and still, trapped in their current schools through the binds of former superintendent Cami Anderson's One Newark Program, Newark students are in an extremely dangerous and potentially deadly situation that they have no way out of. Most of the affected schools are considered "failing," and are set to close down while the buildings are to be sold to private contractors and incoming charter schools. Four of the affected schools are formerly public turned charter institutions. Three schools have been recently transformed into alternative schools for the misbehaved and special education institutions for the mentally challenged. And still --there is no official plan for cleanup. While bottled-water distribution companies maximize profits, and NJ city and state officials minimize responsibility, it is the students of Newark who bear the burden of years of lead-water poisoning. New Jersey Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. has developed plans to propose a nation-wide bill to Congress -- to create a federal budget for yearly toxicity testing and evaluation in public schools throughout the U.S. The legislation would require schools to test drinking water, including water from faucets used for food preparation, sinks in bathrooms, and water fountains. Testing would be required at least biannually at schools built prior to 1996 and at least annually at schools built in 1996 or after, when regulations were extended to restrict the amount of lead in school faucets. The TEST for Lead Act would also require local education agencies with jurisdiction over the schools to notify parents, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state within 48 hours if a level of lead that exceeds a lead-action level, as identified by the EPA, is discovered." - NJ Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. Although water testing is a long ways from clean-up, and even longer from treatment -- it's a start towards recovery that lies within the means of the existing federal budget. It is imperative that we stand by NJ legislators in their primary initiatives towards health accuracy and ecological justice in Newark and vulnerable cities across the U.S. Sign this petition. Hundreds of thousands of students in Newark, New Jersey, Flint, Michigan, and a host of other cities are counting on you. "I align myself with New Jersey Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. in his proposal of the TEST for Lead Act, which ensures that annual toxicity testing is conducted in public schools, nation wide."
Raise the Qualifications for Prison Guards NationwideBehind prison walls, there are thousands of everyday incidents that convey explicit power-conflicts between prisoners and correction officers, both in state and private prisons. Though these conflicts are, at-large, a result of a conditioned hostile environment, they are also the result of a general lack of education, training, experience, and respect toward the people serving their time in prison. Incidents of violent assault are common. In a Mississippi state prison, a female warden was punched in the face by a male prisoner twice her age and size after she "disrespected, disciplined and made an example of him" in front of other inmates. Rape too, is a prison epidemic that we are too familiar with. At Rikers Prison in New York, a female prisoner was gang raped by two male guards who were responsible for escorting her to the bathroom. Though both correctional officers were fired, neither was charged. What we do not hear about are the hundreds of lives taken each year, both guards and prisoners, as a result of power-conflicts. More often than not, prison guards undergo inadequate C.O. training, have minimal educational attainment, and in many states, are able to jump into the field as early as 18 years old. In addition, not all, but very many prison guards are both physically and psychologically unprepared for the job. In Georgia, educational programs,` in partnership with colleges and universities are being implemented in prisons state-wide. Prisons have allowed these programs, on the condition that courses and scholarship funds are available for the correctional officers as well. Georgia prison officials feared that their officers, mostly high-school educated, would react hostilely to inmates being able to take college courses. In state prisons all over the country, C.O.s make everyday decisions that affect the long-term lives of those imprisoned. Correctional officers need specialized training, with an emphasis on conflict resolution, instead of combat and coercion. They need to be educated to understand the psychological condition of the prisoners they care after. They need to be educated to a point where neither anger nor resentment arises from witnessing an inmate take a beginning level college course. Power-abuse is never acceptable. No human being deserves to be stripped of their identity, humanity, or life due to power-conflicts rooted in lack of education, mental instability and inadequate training and experience. If we are going to use correctional institutions as the primary punishment for those who break the law, we need to invest more into our correctional officers, by raising the C.O. qualifications nation-wide. Sign this petition demanding that state legislators and Department of Corrections Commissioners raise the qualifications for Correctional Officers nationwide. 1. Prison guards should have at least some level of college education. 2. Prison guards should be at least 25 years of age. 3. Prison guards should have yearly background checks and psychological evaluations.
Abolish War, Save Article 9The movement to maintain Article 9 is important because Article 9 is such a positive force for Japanese people and for other nations globally. What makes the movement even stronger is that the movement leaders also want to revise the constitution in their own image - that is, to make it a constitution of the 21st century removed from the influence of World War II. They are supported by important thinkers and activists such as Noam Chomsky, Akihiko Kimijima and Helen Caldicott who stress that Article 9 should be a role model for the world to follow. All emphasize that living in the nuclear age our survival is at stake. To embrace Article 9 is to support the United Nations mandate to abolish war and "turn your swords into ploughshares." But we must remain consistent over a long period of time. We must outlast big money lobby groups over a long time - and we must be very creative in our strategy. The public at large becomes quickly bored and apathetic unless the new movement is able to stimulate their imaginations and motivate them to take action in support of the protesters. Both General Douglas MacArthur and Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara were very successful in motivating the voting public to embrace the new peace constitution in 1946. So in conclusion I truly believe there is hope for Article 9, but it will take hard work and consistency. Join hands, hearts and minds to support and promote this wonderful constitution.
Demand adequate treatment and protection for inmate, Keith "Malik" WashingtonKeith "Malik" Washington is an activist and current prisoner of the menacing U.S. criminal justice system. Throughout his sentence, Malik has witnessed and experienced severe environmental neglect and its detrimental effects in Texas state prisons. He has written dozens of letters to legislators and activists revealing the horrendous conditions in TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) facilities, including malnutrition, contaminated water and extreme overheating. Retaliation is real! Malik’s efforts, instead of being met with serious investigation and support, have been treated as a threat to Texas legislators and officials. In retaliation to Malik’s efforts to expose the environmental injustices in Texas prisons, he has been transferred to the Coffield Unit, the largest and most gang-present prison in the state of Texas. Malik has deliberately been placed in harm’s way by the TDCJ! According to Malik, there have been multiple threats made against his life from both guards and prisoners and it is very clear that he was transferred to Coffield because the TDCJ is retaliating against him for exposing environmental injustices in the TDCJ system. Malik needs to be protected from threats made from guards and gangs in the Coffield Unit, which the unit’s administration have encouraged. We demand that Malik immediately be placed either in a different unit or in some sort of protective custody. Malik has devoted his life to exposing injustices in prisons across the country through education and activism - even while confined to a prison cell. He has written numerous articles for online prison activist sites. One of his more recent articles is provided below: http://sfbayview.com/2015/07/tdcj-placed-me-in-harms-way-because-i-spoke-out-in-reference-to-the-extreme-heat/keith-malik-washington/ Sign this petition demand Malik’s immediate removal from the Coffield unit or immediate placement into protective custody within the prison!
Change the Name of Jefferson Davis Highway in ArlingtonWhereas, Arlington County prides itself on diversity and a welcoming attitude toward all ethnic groups, and *Arlington County, where Freedmans Village was located, was the destination for African Americans liberated by President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War, and *African American soldiers were trained at Camp Casey in Arlington County to fight to end slavery and to preserve the United States, and *Arlington County was never part of the Confederacy, and *Confederate President Jefferson Davis sought to perpetuate the enslavement of African Americans, and has no personal relationship to Arlington County, We, the undersigned, consider continued use of the name Jefferson Davis in connection with Route 1 and Route 110 not only to have no relevance to Arlington County, but also to be a symbol viewed by many as racist, similar to flying the Confederate flag, and therefore petition the Arlington County Board to take appropriate steps to initiate the removal of the name Jefferson Davis from those roadways. For information about Jefferson Davis Highway from the Department of Transportation: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/jdavis.cfm For more information on Camp Casey: https://consortiumnews.com/2015/02/26/the-mystery-of-the-civil-wars-camp-casey/ See also, "Lynching and Jeff Davis Highway:" https://consortiumnews.com/2015/02/12/lynching-and-jeff-davis-highway/
Wage Peace!American University produces some of the most influential experts on US Foreign Policy in the country. SIS graduates make up the staff of countless government offices, NGOs, and media organizations. It is therefore regrettable that these students and leaders are given a limited approach to issues of international affairs, weighted heavily towards the National Security perspective. There must be a Peace program at the "Peace University." If we continue to allow our elevated academic institutions to produce people hamstrung by an imperialist ideological framework, there is no reason to expect any change in US Foreign Policy or its structure. Moreover, young people of ages 18 or 19 come to AU with idealistic vigor and the desire to improve the world. They are then subjected to a range of course options that skew their idealism towards militarism and economic subversion of foreign nations. This is an unconscionable state of affairs and we need your support to resist. USFPAC is running a campaign on AU's campus to give prospective students a clear picture of what AU has to offer in terms of Peace studies. We are inviting them (and you!) to sign this petition and join us in the effort to reform SIS academic programming. Our simple demand is that a School of International Service must reflect its charter. Eisenhower founded the institution on the dictum "wage peace." It is time we retrieve his principle.
American Lung Association: Cut Fossil Fuel Ties and Come Clean!The negative health impacts of fracking are scientifically proven. The ALA acknowledged that hydraulic fracturing for "natural" gas trapped in shale (fracking) causes cancer-causing air pollution. But after receiving hefty donations from a fracking corporation, it now promotes gas as "cleaner than other fossil fuels." Those supporting ALA campaigns deserve to know the shameful truth: The ALA has partnered with the fossil fuel industry — which contributes greatly to air pollution and respiratory diseases. The ALA in 2012: "We have seen irrefutable evidence of serious threats to human health from air pollutants emitted during oil and natural gas production. These pollutants can worsen asthma, cause heart attacks, and harm the circulatory, respiratory, [and] nervous . . . systems. They are also linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and even premature death.” The ALA reversed course when it received a big donation from Canadian corporation Encana Oil & Gas in support of its “Fighting for Air” campaign against coal (and supporting gas as a “cleaner” fuel). From the ALA statement supporting “natural” gas: The ALA "supports the increased use of natural gas as a transitional fuel for the production of electricity. . . ." Wimmer and the national board of the ALA make a mockery of the thousands of dedicated local chapter leaders, staff, and volunteers, whose efforts on various campaigns have saved untold numbers of lives. The ALA should not play politics or partner with fossil-fuel pushers. The only logical remedy is for the ALA to come clean — by denouncing fracking as the intolerable lung health-destroying corporate activity it is; severing all ties with board members, advisers, and volunteers from within the fossil fuel industry; and living up to its own mission.
Pardon Dr. Michael BransomeWe must honor dissenters as we honor in this case vets, and in this case because the dissenters were right, and we leave no one behind. When so many pardons are being given to convicted drug dealers, we should grant pardons to (as many) addiction experts (as possible), too. Doing the right thing is always important.
Parent Without PunishingWar begins with spanking on moms' knees. The violence learned there you see in school bullying, gangs, and street crime. Home should be a refuge from the world's ugliness. Over 70 years of research has shown the harmful consequences that child punishment does to us parents and taxpayers. Alice Miller's 'For Your Own Good', Murray Straus' Beating The Devil Out Of Them' and Philip Greven's 'Spare The Child' shows us why and how to be a humane parent, and A. S. Neill's 'Summerhill' demonstrates that NO punishment is best.